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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

The death of Gregory McPeake during arrest

31 May 2018

At about 6pm on 12 March 2015 Gregory McPeake assaulted his elderly parents at their home in Hastings with a homemade kosh. Police were notified of this incident and officers were sent to locate him.

In the early hours of 13 March Mr McPeake was located sitting in his car in the foreshore area at Westshore Beach in Napier. Police understood that he was in possession of cross bow.

Various officers were involved and used physical force to arrest Mr McPeake, including Police dogs, tasers and OC spray. Mr McPeake was removed from the car and appeared to collapse. An ambulance was called but Mr McPeake died at the scene.

The subsequent pathologist findings from the post mortem found that Mr McPeake suffered from chronic heart disease and at some point prior to the use of force applied by officers he had suffered a heart attack. The coroner determined the cause of death to be sudden cardiac death in the context of severe ischaemic heart disease and exertion during the arrest process.

Police notified the Authority of the incident on 13 March 2015 and the Authority commenced an independent investigation. Police also commenced an investigation. The Police investigation resulted in criminal charges being brought against four officers. As the use of force was being examined by the Court the Authority decided that it did not need to continue its independent investigation.

On 8 December 2016 the four Police officers were acquitted of the charges they faced. Following the criminal trial Police undertook a thorough debrief and review of the incident to identify lessons to be learned and any recommendations to assist future practice, which the Authority oversaw.

The Police review found that:

• CIB staff appropriately investigated and generally dealt well with the assault by Mr McPeake on his parents. They should have ensured appropriate alerts were entered onto the Police database so all staff were aware of the incident and risks posed by Mr McPeake.

• A police officer was relieving in a supervisory position during the incident. This officer had not received any induction or mentoring for this role. This officer should have sought advice from a more senior officer as the incident progressed and considered whether the Armed Offender Squad should have been requested to attend the incident. The officer was tactically involved in the incident rather than remaining at a distance from the incident and maintaining a leadership role. As a result, he failed to exercise proper control and command.

• The police officer in the District Command Centre had been in the role for only three days. That officer did not receive a comprehensive induction. In addition there was a lack of Standard Operating Procedures outlining the roles and responsibilities of the District Command Centre.

• There was a lack of communication between the District Command Centre and the officers dealing with the incident.

The Authority accepts that Police have undertaken a full review of this incident and implemented appropriate recommendations to address these issues at both a District and National level. These included:

• clarification of the role of a District Command Centre generally, and in a serious situation such as this, and the need for staff to keep the District Command Centre apprised as events unfold;

• ensuring there is appropriate induction and mentoring for staff in relieving and acting supervisory positions;

• ensuring the District training that officers receive in relation to the use of various tactical options is appropriate; and

• establishing District training in relation to control and command of serious incidents.

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